Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Other Side of the Story

Accompanied by an official of the Ottawa Immigration department, the body of Marshall Jackson, the well-known Winnipeg detective, who was killed while escorting a prisoner...will arrive in Winnipeg at 11 o'clock this morning.

That was the news report in the Manitoba Free Press on Monday, January 29, 1917, which brings us back to the other side of the story I set aside, back in January of this yearalmost exactly ninety nine years after this newspaper entry. It wasat least on the side I had been talking aboutthe story of John Syme Hogue, son of a civil engineer in Charleston, West Virginia, whose unfortunate life choices found him on death row in a prison in Ontario, Canada. The reason: murder of an immigration officer handling the process of his extradition to stand trial back in the United States.

The other side of the story, of course, would be that of Marshall Jackson, the Winnipeg detective assigned to escort John Hoguestill being referred to under one of his many aliasesback to Windsor in Ontario, where he was to oversee the transfer of his prisoner to United States law enforcement personnel at the international border.

While there are several newspaper reports which included enough details on the man to develop a sketch of who he was, the downside to that attempt is the typical rush to publish in the face of getting "the scoop" ahead of the competition. At first, the Winnipeg newspaper identified the officer as "Detective Nesbitt"until someone from the police force must have pointed out that they had no such detective by that name. For a while, it seemed the number of aliases for the reports on the now-deceased detective was doomed to catch up with the number of aliases assigned to his assailant.

It is not simply to sort out the chronologyor merely the correct identityof the slain officer that I want to pick up this thread of the narrative. As you likely have realized from following along here at A Family Tapestry, it's the stories that exert that powerful pull on meof course I want to know Marshall Jackson's story, as well.

Even more than that, though, is an additional pull this story exerts on me, personally. Because I am married to a law enforcement professional, I have had the vicariousalbeit admittedly distantexperience of knowing the impact on those on the force who have lost a co-worker who has died in the line of duty. It is an awful experience with multiple repercussions, not only for immediate family, but for those who worked with the fallen officer, and for the community in which that person once served. Whenever I hear of an officer who was injured or killed during the course of work, I can't help but hear echoes of officer safety warnings in my headthe oft-repeated kind drilled into public safety employees over the course of their career. When I read a story like Marshall Jackson's, I can't help but cringe when I realize what happened to him. Stories like his became the training material used to hopefully prevent further such tragedies from occurring.

For the rest of the week, we'll revisit this other side of the John Syme Hogue story. We'll explore what we can reconstruct of Marshall Jackson's own role in this story, his work history, and his family's story. Between newspaper reports, census records, cemetery records and other findings, this will help us understand a bit more about who this seasoned detective was who nevertheless lost his life in the course of a day's work.

Above: French impressionist painter Claude Monet's 1885 oil on canvas, "Train in the Snow." Courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. I hope you have good luck with the Marshall Jackson research, I am curious also:)

    1. I'm certainly thankful for the many archived newspaper collections now at our fingertips! I've found quite a bit :)

  2. This is a shiny rabbit goose chase (take your pick) - but I'm sure it will be really interesting!

    Besides, when you write the screen play for the John Hogue movie, you will need this info!


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